"Donna vs. Morimoto: Battle
Scallop" - March 6
Editor's Note: What follows is a
televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a
sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be
edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will
Roberto Donna of Torino, Italy. He came to America with
a dream of becoming a restauranteur, and today, his
restaurant, Galileo in Washington, DC, is among the 20
greatest in the world by the President of Italy. Today, he challenges the
OG of the ICs, Masaharu Morimoto. Coming off of a loss
in Kitchen Stadium America, he's pulling no stops. Gentlemen...
prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Troy Thompson & Ariki Omae, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
Sea scallops and bay scallops, shelled and
The Rules: Each chef
must create a five-course meal, with each course
utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The
judges will score the dishes on a 20-point scale: 10
points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5
points creativity and use of ingredient. The chef who
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
The words of
the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
The Battle: Alton
calls both chefs expert artists in regard to the
ingredient, and gives Morimoto the advantage in that he
has been here 76 times prior. The challenger has a white
truffle in rice to keep it fresh, while Morimoto is
shucking his own truffles. It looks like Donna is making
pasta, while garbanzos are being cooked.
Morimoto is preparing
daikon for stewing. "I'm not cooking for the judges. I'm
not cooking for the challengers. I'm cooking for myself.
My style." As for Donna, "I prepare myself thinking that
I'm not coming to compete against the Iron Chef. I'm
coming to cook and to have fun." This as he's making a
Sous-chef Omae is preparing
uni while Donna is making porcini, while turnips are
being boiled. Morimoto is hollowing out some onions with
an oyster knife while Omae is working some foie gras.
Donna is sauteing some vegetables while Morimoto is
cutting avocado and making rice. Sea scallops are being
poached in some broth while scallops are being cooked
with mirin. And Donna gets a pumpkin while saving roe
sacs for "a surprise dish". Meanwhile, the onions on
Donna's side get sweet sausages with them. Alton notes
the use of kosher salt. "Good Eats" fans will know why.
Kevin snipes some yuzu from
Morimoto's side, as Omae is grating the zest. Morimoto
himself is wrapping scallops in bacon. Those go into the
hollowed-out onion. Finely chopped scallops next. Donna
is scarving butternuts, while his sous-chefs are a bit
disoriented. Donna takes some time to sprinkle salt over
on Morimoto's side. It causes bad luck, he says. And
maybe it worked, as Morimoto and Troy are having a bit
of issue with the stove.
The Judges: Victoria
Riccardi (author: "Untangling My Chopsticks"): "I'm
seeing much more traditional uses with Donna."
Anderson Cooper (anchor/host, "Anderson Cooper 360"):
"There're so many different blends of flavors. This is
Akiko Katayama (culinary journalist, Food Arts Magazine
- Japan): "I think Mr. Morimoto is using half-Japanese,
half-American, very post-fusion. I'm looking forward to
the balance of textures."
Back to Battle:
Morimoto cuts some scallops finely while Daniele cuts
eggs and Donna gets some pumpkin on his shirt. He takes
time to clean it. Half of cooking good is looking good.
Morimoto slices matsutake mushrooms, while Donna adds
the butternut to the sausage. Morimoto is breading
truffles for... something.
"Thirty minutes have
elapsed." Morimoto is using the scallop mousse he
prepared as a base for noodles in konbu broth. Donna is
using the same thing. Morimoto makes a souffle in a ring
mould. One of Donna's sous-chefs is making a turnip
tower with mozzarella.
Meanwhile, Morimoto is
heating pots for a tofu steaming. He's... I believe he's
blessing the nagari (coagulant for tofu). He's also
making the souffle, all with 25 minutes left.
And the secret's out, as
Donna prepares an eggsac ice cream in the tradition of
Iron Chef Sakai's trout ice cream. Also a spring roll on
Omae's plates. Morimoto is preparing a bento box.
Historically, Morimoto has always liked to overprepare.
Donna is slicing scallops for a carpaccio. Troy looks to
be preparing a foie-gras mousse.
The turnip towers are
coming together while the polenta is coming out for an
egg dish. Morimoto cooked through the daikon for a
sea scallops have eyes around the shell that protect
them from predators. The muscle that holds the two
shells together is what we eat. The adductor muscle of
bay scallops are the same, only smaller.
"Fifteen minutes to go."
The garbanzos become a paste, while Morimoto's scallop
chunky mousse goes into the bento box, while his bacon
onions meet direct flame. The tofu is coming together.
Pasta rolling on Donna's side. Morimoto... very happy
with the 10 minutes remaining as he goes into a bit of a
shuffle. Daikon rings are done and foie-gras is being
seared, but he's most concerned with the tofu.
"And Chef Donna has gone
mad" with the flour. No, seriously... they're nuts on
both sides. Ice cream is being made by Donna. Sauce made
by Morimoto with teriyaki and truffle butter. The tofu
is poured over the mousse while sweet potatoes join
fried scallop chips.
And we have a glue gun!
This for the eggs that Donna prepared. Morimoto has cut
his onions in half. The tofu is out as well and plating
has begun. the stuffed onion gets the teriyaki/truffle
butter sauce while the bento box is finished. Three on
the clock and Morimoto is almost done with the souffle.
The ravioli is done, but the cooking, while Donna is
basically doing the sashimi thing. Donna is still
rushing to get his five dishes done! Even with a minute
The souffle is done while
Donna is making scallops. There's still food cooking
with 15 to go! 10! "Five seconds! Three! Two! One!
Time's up." It's over! Chef Donna has not completed his
five-dish requirement! This is going to make for
Kevin asks Morimoto how he
pressed himself to make such creative dishes. "Who
knows?" Meanwhile, Donna only completed TWO of his
Judgment (Donna): "We pushed and we pushed. But
we have two dishes that we want to reflect the style we
prepare in our kitchen." Dishes:
Scallop Carpaccio with Chickpea Puree, Sauteed Bay
Scallops with Scrambled Eggs
Victoria and Akiko think
the first dish is overwhelming, while Anderson likes it.
Akiko likes the texture of the scallops, but wishes the
flavor was more concentrated with the eggs. Victoria
likes the contrasting flavors. Donna hopes for a grudge
match against Morimoto in the near future.
Judgment (Morimoto): "My main theme was a fusion of
sweetness. We're not talking about sweetness of sugary
things, but natural sweetness." Dishes: Bento Box, Sea
Scallop & Sea Urchin Souffle, Homemade Tofu with Scallop
Mousse, Scallop Chowder, Scallops with Sweet Onions and
Anderson thinks the
presentation of the bento box is akin to a Christmas
surprise. Victoria thought the spring roll was flabby.
Akiko was looking for integration, and she found it with
the souffle. Victoria and Anderson didn't taste the
scallop in the tofu. All judges are in agreement with
the chowder and the onion in their lightness and the way
Morimoto mixes up flavors.
And now, whose cuisine
reigns supreme? The verdict....
... 50-33 in favor of
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Time was a factor and that
costs the challenger the win. Donna stomachs a powerful
loss as Morimoto has avenged his earlier loss. This
isn't the last we've seen of either, I bet. Until next
time, we bid you good eating.